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Use based system vs. XP based ones

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Lumpy, Mar 18, 2006.

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Which system do you prefer?

  1. The use based system

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  2. The XP based system

    0 vote(s)
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  3. A combination of both

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  1. Lumpy Arcane

    Lumpy
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    Most of the recent threads in General RPG Discussion have been about particular games, so I decided to try to start a new non-Oblivion non-Gothic 3 discussion.

    I prefer use based systems. They put less emphasis on spending a lot of time on designing your character at times the computer should do that for you, they feel more natural and more realistic. Why should my character increase his Lockpick skill when he gained that XP by shooting things?
    I don't understand Bethesda though. They made a use based system for skills, but for some reason, they kept an XP system for attributes. If they want to make it more natural, do it, but why stop halfway through?
    The only pure use based system I've seen so far (I haven't played many RPGs though) was GCD. It did what Bethesda should have done. The gameplay was much better when you didn't have to worry about distributing points among your attributes. It also removed those pointless hard caps, while adding some ingenious soft caps.
     
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  2. Drakron Arcane

    Drakron
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    Skill systems lead to treadmill.
    XP systems lead to farming.

    All have its own shortcommings, I rather have XP based system since I dont have treadmill my skills and can craft my own character advance.

    Hybrids rarely work, WoW system is a hybrid (XP dictates level as level dicates how much skill can be achived with skill being raised by use) that somewhat funtions but the treadmill (and that is the reason of why its there) remains.
     
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  3. Lumpy Arcane

    Lumpy
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    It depends how you play the game. In Morrowind, I rarely went out of my way to increase certain skills, and only did so when I needed a couple more points for a new rank. Otherwise, I played the game naturally, without bothering with the leveling system too much.
     
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  4. Kairal Novice

    Kairal
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    I think I prefer a used based system as well, at least from what I've experienced. It allows you to play the game without jumping through the specific hoops the developers planned.
     
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  5. Drakron Arcane

    Drakron
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    Yes and if I really want it I dont farm XP either ...

    Your point is exactly what?

    That the system is only abused when you really want ... sure it is but then again all systems are, I just point out the flaws of both systems that one is XP farming and the other Skill treadmill.

    I did not even gone over quests, in skill systems quests are not a incentive because you dont really gain anything except some "reward" (that can be shitty, like 100gp as you already looted 10x that from doing the quest and the quest needed not to be activated to get the loot) as in XP system quests are always a incentive because even if the reward is crap there is a nice XP gain from doing it.

    No matter how you cut it you cannot beat a class system on character advacement, the player is always free to advance the character in any way he likes, even if its "picking locks by doing combat" ... yes because god knows how nice is on skill system to go around spending tons of gold and/or having to pick every freaking lock in a 10 miles radius to progress your lockpicking abilities.
     
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  6. Human Shield Augur

    Human Shield
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    You learn by studying new stuff. You don't become an expert doctor by treating one million scrapes.

    Doing stuff you have already learned shouldn't help much. XP systems are better by assuming off-screen training and lets you learn new things without mindless chores.

    "I swing my sword and get better at swinging my sword." Control would come from daily training, adapting to different enemies come from experience.

    I would prefer a training based system, where you can assign time during the day or at rest to study or practice; sometimes needing books or equipment. Combined with an experience system to adapt to new challenges and predicating what the enemy will do and knowing what you're good at in a battle. So you can have green people out of school and vet's without a refined style.

    Some things come gradual and some things have enlightening moments where you can really "level up" by figuring out one thing.
     
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  7. Lumpy Arcane

    Lumpy
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    But nor do you become an expert doctor by killing one million rats.

    Couldn't you assume off-screen training also happens in use based systems? Why does this off-screen medical training only have effect when you have enough experience, gained possibly from killing rats or fixing wells?
     
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  8. Zomg Arbiter

    Zomg
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    For a theoretical, perfectly engineered system, use-based, but in reality XP or XP-like systems (preferably without per-kill XP, like System Shock 2) have been in most of my favorite games.
     
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  9. Human Shield Augur

    Human Shield
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    Good level system should stop giving XP on lower monsters after level up. So being in battle with bigger monsters would require you be better at being a doctor (bigger threat of injury). The learning is assumed off screen.

    Like I said, I would like to see a new system. But I do prefer point-buy type systems because they give choice and aren't unrealistic chore simulators where I have to tell my guys to do things they are terrible at in real combat instead of learning before hand.

    Because I can never improve unless I go seeking for things I am bad at. I can't learn about lockpicking, I have to look for places to break in to start a career. That would be really stupid for real criminals.
     
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  10. LaDoushe Scholar

    LaDoushe
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    I have to agree with this. Even though I love the way it was implemented in JA2, I do recall the chore aspect now and then.
    Not to be a fanboy, but I really like the MB combination, whereby you naturally improve through use of a weapon, but can also increase through lvling. It takes some of the grind out of both aspects and is basically the best of both worlds. I find the balance helps one to focus on the gameplay, not the acquisition of xp or gains in attributes.
     
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  11. Greatatlantic Erudite

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    Anyone else here play Betrayal at Krondor? Though its been many years since I've played it and my memeory may be fuzzy on the details, it used a "per-use" system of advancement. And unlike Morrowind, it really did feel natural, intuitive, and took away the concern (for better or for worse) of character building.

    I think it worked because of a couple of desicions. First, you don't get better at doing something by trying unless you are successful. Hence, the mages who didn't start with a very high melee are unlikely to ever be able to hit a target, while the fighters had a high enough starting melee to gradually improve as the game went on. Secondly, there were ways to improve a lot of skills. There were trainers, or items like practice lutes to help raise bard skills. More then anything, however, I think the skills were just very well balanced. The difference between a few percentage points didn't really mean much, and you could count on the fact that simply playing the game as you would normally would keep your skills to where they should be, with exceptions to things like Scouting.

    However, BaK was a much more linear game then what Bethseda tries to make, so Bethseda would have a much harder time pacing out the game. But, I think it could still be done. However, they need to woory about fixing their broken attributes gain system first. The way its set up it encourages players to use their non-major skills so as to have higher multipliers at level up. Maybe just directly tying attribute gains into skill gains would fix that problem, and create a synergy between skills that intuitively should be there.
     
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  12. Kairal Novice

    Kairal
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    xp systems tend to force characters to be overly aggressive though whereas a use-based system gets around that fairly handily. I guess the idea with a typical exp system is that diplomatic characters should be getting exp from quests but a warrior will still get those quests and all the additional xp from fighting also the diplomat has a fairly limited amount of xp where the warrior can just keep training. The only other xp system I can think of was Deus Ex's which also rewarded xp for exploration etc.
     
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  13. 7th Circle Scholar

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    What I'd like to see (and I apologise in advance if it's in some game I haven't played) is a hybrid system along the following lines.

    The game keeps tracks of which skills, abilities etc. you've used and how often you've used them but this doesn't actually determine when they get raised. Instead, you get "development points" for completing quests, handling npcs and monsters (killing, diplomacy etc. as appopriate) and for dealing with other features of the game (traps, puzzles etc.).

    When enough development points are earned, a "level" threshold is crossed. At this time, the game notes how many times you've used each of the skills etc. and uses this as the basis for raising something via a die roll. Thus, if you've "used " heavy armour 2 times, diplomacy 3 times, melee 4 times and stealth once, heavy armour would have a 2/10 probability of being raised, diplomacy would have a 3/10 probability, melee would have a 4/10 probability of being raised and stealth would have a 1/10 probability.

    Once a skill was raised, the counter for that skill (and that skill alone) would be reset to 0 (so that other skils that were used consistently but less commonly would eventually be raised). I would imagine that this system would have more "levels" than an xp system but, to be honest, the only pupose of a "level" in this system is as a threshold (i.e., level has no direct gameplay effect) and thus could even be made invisible to the player.

    Of course, as with any such system, a poorly balanced implementation could suck.
     
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  14. Teb Novice

    Teb
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    I prefer use-based systems as long as the skill increases are based on the difficulty of the tasks. Succeeding at a difficult task should give more skill progress than suceeding at a simple task. For example, picking a hard lock (for your skill level) should help train your lockpicking skill more than picking an easy lock.
     
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  15. Section8 Erudite

    Section8
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    I don't really have a clear preference. XP systems offer more control to develop the character *I* want to play, and are a great game reward (compare Diablo, where level ups are an enticing goal, to Dungeon Siege where it's just something in the background.)

    Skill use systems on the other hand are like a lot of mini rewards, where I can feel that nearly every one of my actions has an effect. It's also a fairly natural and plausible way to simulate a practical approach to learning.

    Betrayal at Krondor's system is high on my list at the moment. The skill use system gains a lot by introducing the concept of focused learning. It provides the control most skill use systems lack, and I think it could be expanded to incorporate some "learn over time" aspects.

    For instance, this comic strip is actually about the best way I can think of to illustrate another flaw in many skill use systems. The difficulty of reasonably pursuing a relatively unknown skill, and hence the need to introduce methods of indirect learning.

    I think it would be perfectly reasonable to allow skills in focus to improve without direct actions in the game world. Simplistically, it can be abstracted as reading and discussing the ins and outs of a skill during "downtime," such as resting/camping, or you could even have a more complex implementation that requires study materials to effect time based skill progression.

    Of course learning over time requires that time passing is meaningful, be it a time limit a la Fallout, accomodation costs in Darklands or thirst/hunger in Dungeon Master, all of which contribute in their own way to the game.
     
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  16. Gnidrologist CONDUCTOR

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    I'm definetely for skill based system because it alowes more freedom in PC developement.

    I don't buy the ''but it's more realistic'' argument by some people as I never considered crpgs or computer games in general as a mimmicry of reality in any case and in crpgs realism is only welcomed if it gives more choices and diversification of gameplay paths. Any other excuse is wrong.

    Not that I neglect use based skill systems in general, but I'm sure skepitcal as they tend to insist on powergaming not roleplaying. Only ''get what you do'' system I liked was in Jagged Alliance 2 and it wasn't an rpg.
     
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  17. Lumpy Arcane

    Lumpy
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    You mean XP based.
    It's not only that it's more realistic, it's also more natural. It puts less emphasis on game mechanics and more on just playing the way you should. At least, it should, if the implementation is good.
     
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  18. Gnidrologist CONDUCTOR

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    @Lumpy
    I ment XP based of course.
    I think ''more natural'' is ''more realistic'' just said in other words. And in my opinion ''putting less emphasis on game mechancis'' is wrong, at least in crpgs. I love the genre particulary because of it's mechanics.

    You do something and get an xp -> you invest this xp in skills you want to be good at -> you solve quests with your prefered skills.

    Use based systems inquire you to do some kind of actions repetitively to be good at them. While if you're all ''comabat boy'' it's ok, because most crpgs have lots of combat situations, but if you choose a non combat solutions like diplomacy, stealth or using some craftmanship it's mostly get down to repeating the same action pointlessly just to rise your skill to be able to complete next quest because there's no ''natural'' way to rise it otherwise.
     
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  19. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    One alternative I see is that you can make the offscreen training itself an assignment (and should pay off better as a reward than "frobnication"). The problem with use-based systems is that they often tend to promote frobnication, where a skill is used not because you actually NEED to use this skill, but simply because you CAN. For instance, I've often gotten into the peculiar habit of picking a lock, then kicking the door down anyway, thus training both my lock-picking skills and my door-bashing skills. The kicker being, frobnication is essentially realistic: One learns to be a better shot by shooting things. One learns to pick locks by buying locks and then picking them, etc., etc.

    Some form of rewarding "off-screen" thing where you designate what characters should be frobnicating on their free time. If this is made useful enough, it would then reduce the incentive to perform this pointless frobnication in the field because no other alternatives for practice exist.
     
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  20. Zomg Arbiter

    Zomg
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    I just want to vote my favor for the frobnication neologism.
     
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  21. HotSnack Cipher

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    Human Shield I completely agree with you on the benifits of a training over time model, in fact it's so disturbingly similiar to my own "fantasy system" that I feel like wearing a tin-foil hat from now on. :lol:

    Here's my take on the model; XP represents the player's capacity to learn, and so major XP is earned when doing something highly stimulating such as completing a quest, as well as more mundane means such as living to see another day. Players can then allocate XP into skills like they would in a normal point buy, but this time XP allocation only represents how much training they want their character to be doing in that skill.

    So every time the character takes a break (either from resting or travelling on the world map), they would slowly convert their allocated XP into skill points. They can speed up the rate they convert XP into skill points if they having training manuals or by spending time with a trainer, but the idea here is that skills will take from days to weeks to make a noticeable improvement. Of course, this idea is perhaps only feasible for a game that is designed to be played out in many years in game time.
     
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  22. kris Arcane

    kris
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    While i like Use based systems it have two big problems that any designer must take good care off. First, they need to have good limitations and/or skill regression or you will get a "master in all" which I find retarded. Second, the gameplay need to be designed to make it viable to increase any skill. Both these are of course tied to how much and in what ways you increase skills which is a hard balancing decision.
     
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  23. Claw Erudite Patron

    Claw
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    Actually, the poll is misleading. The difference is that the skill increase in "xp systems" is tied to levels, while both actually use experience, so it should be "skill xp vs. level xp" actually.
    My favourite concept is an entirely xp-based system, i.e. all skills possess an experience value and nothing else, where the player gains both skill-specific and general, or unassigned xp. The unassigned xp could then be distributed to skill in the form of training, possibly with the use of books or trainers.
    Levels could be included in the form of a number of soft skill caps, but there shouldn't be too many levels.
    Also, the skill increase should be decidedly limited, i.e. the character should start with decent stats. The system I envision treats attributes and skills the same way, so it could be designed so that attributes change very little while skills can develop more strongly.

    I am absolutely in favour of being able to train skills consciously, but I don't want treadmilling, so there needs to be a good training system, yet I also want to feel like I earned my skills - buying doesn't count - so I am in favour of a "skill point pool" like in Fallout.
    I like HS' ideas regarding theory and practical experience, I could see it implemented in the form of theoretic learning increasing skill caps.


    You mix existing implementation with concept. The flaw of most implementations of lvl-xp systems is that you do not gain xp from using non-combat skills.
    The flaw of lvl-xp systems is that the reward is generally not directly tied to skill use, but to the result, like killing an enemy. The reward for combat skills is traditional, but non-combat skills are often neglected. In Fallout, you'd gain a miniscule xp reward for using medical skills, and some others.
    It would be nice to see a lvl-xp system where every skill use - from unlocking a door to a successful lie - results in a direct reward.
    I've also seen an MMORPG once that tried to mix use-xp and level-xp in such a way that you gain XP or skill increase occasionally, but only with certain skills.


    PS: I forgot to mention that skill experience should be gained based on the relative difficulty of a task. Personally, I don't think success or failure should matter, it could be weighted in favour of success, but you should gain xp either way.
     
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  24. Atrokkus Erudite

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    Yeah, taht's very important, for a more or less realistic RPG. Your intelligence can't really change from a dumbfuck to genious. If a character is created with INt of 3, it can't possible improve it to more than 5.
    Strength, however, is much more flexible in this respect, though also to an extent. And so forth.
    This small detail is very often neglected in many games.
     
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  25. elander_ Arbiter

    elander_
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    I prefer a mix of team turn-base and real-time turn-base like if Fallout Tactics. People criticise this mix because a game balanced for turn-base is different than a game balanced for real-time. In real-time ammo and health fixes are more abundant because the player fails more. However the problem only exists when a game is too dependent of health fixes and ammo and lacks in tactics. See Full Spectrum Warrior for example. It's a very tactic real-time and militar combat simulation that is strongly dependent on tactics, cover, positioning and other militar tactics. There are no health fixes and ammo isn't usualy a problem unless you want to pin down an oponent by having your team shooting at him in burst mode which they call supression fire in the game.

    http://www.fullspectrumwarrior.com/index2.php
     
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